Skip to main content

Spilling the bean

The great poet T S Eliot is known to have said, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”

Though India is largely presumed to be a tea drinking nation, recent studies conducted by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) in 2012 show that coffee consumption has steadily grown over the years. According to the ICO data, while in 2001 the country consumed about 1.02 million bags of coffee, in 2010 this number touched 1.71 million bags of 60 kg each and in 2011-12 the coffee consumption in our country went up by 3 per cent.

India is the world’s sixth biggest exporter of coffee and the growth in coffee consumption in India is even more than the global rate.
After all these mind boggling figures let us direct our attention towards the beginning of mankind’s affair with coffee. Legend has it that Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, noticed the effect of the coffee beans on his goats who ‘danced’ from one shrub to the other after grazing on the cherry-red beans. History informs us that in Africa, some tribes ate coffee alongside balls made of animal fat to boost energy.
Coffee as we know it today was first brewed around 1300 AD in Arabia. It was a beverage that got a nod from Islam where drinking alcohol was prohibited. The rise of Islam can be said to be a great contributor to the spread of coffee. Wherever it went, coffee travelled as well and reached North Africa, eastern Mediterranean and India. A merchant from Venice introduced coffee to the Europreans in 1615. In 1696 a colonial coffee plant, maybe the first one, was founded in Java. Gradually coffee reached Brazil where it became a coffee empire and moved to the hands of the common man from the elite.

Despite its reach across the globe, coffee was banned in 1675 by the King of England who claimed that coffee houses were places where people gathered and met to conspire against him.
The coffee tree can grow to be 30 feet tall but is generally cultivated to be around 10 feet for easy picking of the berries. These are dried and stripped down until all that is left is a green bean . The bean is then roasted at a high temperature for a few minutes when it pops and doubles in size and then pops again indicating that it is now ready to be ground into powder. The heat sparks a chemical reaction in the bean that turns its carbohydrates and fats into aromatic oils, further unlocking the flavour as the moisture and carbon dioxide present in it are burnt.
Today as more and more coffee shops come into business we are introduced to many variants of coffee. India’s first specialist coffee shop, Cafe Coffee Day opened in 1996 and today has 1,350 cafes all across India. Once there was simply Espresso — the name given to a method of preparing coffee where hot, pressurised water is shot through the finely ground coffee — which was a rare treat at weddings.

Today there are options like latte, mocha, Americano, breve and cappuccino to choose from.
Scientists have been studying the health benefits of coffee. Studies suggest that coffee consumption reduces the risk of certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and may help fight some heart conditions. Caffeine also acts as an acute antidepressant.
Here is the recipe for the perfect coffee by French statesman Talleyrand according to whom it should be ‘black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel and sweet as love.’

(The blog post appeared as an article first in The New Indian Express on February 8, 2012. You can read it here-


Popular posts from this blog

A case for non-fiction or better understanding of kidlit

If you are a parent there are more chances than one that YOU have handed your child a book to read. Or you have chosen to bring home the books that you think that she might like to read. If any of these hold true then we are almost alike and no this is not an article that tells you how wrong you have been all along in bringing your child the books that you choose. This is just a few of my thoughts on this very subject
that I gathered today morning as I wrote an Instagram post.

Let me begin at the beginning.
Today my soon to be 4, son sat down with a book and was at it for good 10-15 minutes. No, it wsn't a tome. It wa a small picture book on trucks. My friend gifted him this book on trucks on his first birthday. The chap was fascinated with it from the moment he got it. You could flip pages and see bright pictures of different types of trucks and then you could open little sliding screens to find out men in uniform who drove a certain kind of truck.

Unsurprisingly his first words …

Reusable cotton pads: My first experience

I had been trying to bring changes for a sustainable living for a while now and using reusable cotton pads for Aunt Flo's monthly visits was an idea that appealed massively to my senses. After searching here and there I found a Kolkata based manufacturer- Shomota- who were also involving women from underprivileged background in manufacturing these pads as well as sharing the profit from sales to make these pads available to girls and women in interiors of West Bengal. BONUS point- I have also come to realise that sustainability is more efficient and worthwhile if you choose local. Also the fact that we are dumping non biodegradable waste on the planet and that is equal to some sort of violence in my head and I have been brought up on the beliefs laid by the Arya Samaj movement, I needed a better option than the mass marketed sanitary pads. I looked and examined a few option that I realised were available to me before making up my mind on the reusable cloth pad.

Why I chose cloth p…

Of new resolutions and newer authors

The year has started on the right note. I have already read two authors whom I had not read before falling hard for the one being hailed as Japanese Steig Larrson- Keigo Hagashino.
That is what got me thinking about new year resolutions  (I know we are done with the first quarter) which I haven't made in years. So here is a list of authors that I would like to sample this year.
1. Manu Joseph
2. Pico Iyer
3. Anthony Horowitz
4. Margret Atwood
5. Toni Morrison
6. Chimamanda Adichie
7. Jo Nesbo
8. Neil Gaiman
9. Terry Pratchett 10. Alice Munro/  Walker
But I also realise the futility of making a list like this as there are just so many authors, poets, writers and just so many works coming to fore everyday. A book group might help, you would think but let me tell you that it complicates things further. New recommendations, fantastic and not so fantastic reviews, pictures, blog posts and what not really makes matter well,complicated.
All said and done, it is but human to try and so…